Photo by Gabriel

We’re always trying to “blend in” or at least not be that tourist when we go on trips abroad.  So when one of our husbands recently came back from a business trip to Italy (where there were plenty of long dinners with Italian colleagues) and shared a few of these faux pas that came up in conversation, we just had to share. Have you heard of these “rules”? Or better yet, are you Italian and can you confirm that these are true?!

1. You never put chicken in pasta or on pizza. Chicken Alfredo? Totally an American invention that makes most Italians shudder.

2. Thinking of ordering another cappuccino? Just make sure it’s before noon, as Italians don’t drink milk-based coffee drinks unless it’s morning.

3. Absolutely no cheese on any fish dishes.

4. If an Italian man is wearing a sport coat, he won’t button his shirt sleeves.

5. NEVER cut your pasta. This we actually learned first-hand, and the hard way, when a linguini dish was proving to be a bit messier than anticipated, so I decided to cut a few of the noodles to a more manageable length. The owner of the restaurant came over, ripped the fork from my hand, twirled the pasta on the spoon, and handed it back to me with a wink. Lesson learned, grazie mille.

Have you ever committed any cultural faux pas in other countries? We’d love to hear your stories!


  1. I knew all of these except for the suit jacket one! But then I used to live in the Italian section of Boston for 15 years. Before noon for cappuccino is pretty lax, normally it is 10am! And you can add, "don't put mustard on a mortadella sandwich that you order at a trattoria for a picnic." I got admonished in Florence for that.

  2. I think that buttoning a sleeve button cannot be described as a "faux-pas", even in italy (whereas cutting your pasta really is!). Unbuttoning a sleeve button has more to do with this particular touch of style italian men know to adopt, also known as "sprezzatura"…

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